Friday, October 24, 2008

Only words?

I think I'm going to go back to a smaller font. Actually, this is just the normal size, but I'd been using "large." For some reason, I can't get comfortable with these fonts. I'll keep experimenting.

Ken is still snoozing--he had a very long day yesterday!--but I was laying there wide awake, so I thought I'd get up. It was a restless night, because I woke up a couple of times when I heard something outside. There are a lot of leaves in our front yard, and something was walking through the leaves outside our bedroom window. From the sound of it, it was a decent size, and from the cadence of the steps (step step step...pause...step), I'd guess it was a deer. At least I hope that's what it was. I suppose it could have been The Mummy. Sheeba heard it, too, and he sat up from his spot by my legs, and ran out of the room. I'm not sure to what purpose, but it's good to know he's vigilant!

Even though the sound of the rain was soothing, I couldn't go back to sleep, because I started thinking about the entry I want to make. Our friend Indigo writes occasionally about her past experiences at the hands of an abuser. It's no secret; she's open and honest about it, and she has become an advocate for those who find themselves in a similar position. One of the things I admire in her is her seemingly endless ability to not only survive, but to do so with grace and humor, and her unfailing need to help others if she can. Note the hotline number on the graphic and write it down if you need to. Indigo is currently asking for anyone who wants to participate to contribute their own story in the hopes that if someone finds themselves in an abusive relationship, they will know that they are not alone. It happens all the time, unfortunately, and maybe there is someone out there who will find strength in numbers, and know that there are people who have managed to get out of such relationships and have not only survived, but thrived. So here's my tale, and sorry about the length.

I'm fortunate in that my experience didn't include physical abuse (although it was edging dangerously close...more later), but I think everyone knows that verbal and emotional abuse can also cause harm. This particular guy (heretofore known as the ex) had a family connection which I won't go into, but that complicated things further. My sister warned me, but I foolishly ignored her and did what I wanted to do. I moved to be with this guy, and we eventually bought a house. Well...I bought a house. The deed was in my name. Before I moved, there were a couple of signs that something wasn't quite right, but I didn't think much of it. An increasingly sullen look, silence, followed by an irrational argument about something I didn't wear what he thought I was going to wear when we went out the night before.

After we moved in together, those incidents got more and more frequent, and more intense. What started as arguments turned into shouting matches. I felt attacked and felt that I had to fight back, turning me into something I'm not. I made the mistake of telling him that I really hate to be called a bitch, so when the next argument occurred, he got in my face and very deliberately said, "BITCH." I can still see that triumphant look in his eyes, a sort of look that said, "There. I said it. Now what are you gonna do about it?" If I would try simply to get away, go in another room, he'd follow me and continue. If I tried to go to bed, he'd keep talking, and we'd be up until 3 or 4 in the morning, continuing these ridiculous arguments. This would continue for up to 3 days sometimes, until whatever rage was percolating in his mind was dissipated. Then came the tears. I'm so sorry, I'll never do it again, I looooooove you soooooo much...I'd die without you.

Until the next time. The silence would begin, the pouty look, and I knew it was coming. It got so that I was afraid to go home from work, because I never knew what I'd find. Sometimes I'd even get a phone call while I was at work, and I could tell by what was said and the tone of voice what I'd be facing when I got home. The name-calling escalated, and I went from just a plain old bitch to a cold-hearted bitch, and I eventually graduated to a f***ing c***. I got shoved a couple of times, and got kicked in the arm. When I got kicked I went cold, and at that point I said, "You will never again kick me or strike me like that. I mean it. Do you understand me?" Tears again. Dropping to his knees, crying, I'm so sorry I'll never do it again I love you...I'd die without you.

Then it was counseling. The guy he saw put him on medication for manic-depression, but that did no good. Next was Valium, I believe, and that seemed to take a bit of the edge off, but the attacks didn't go away. When my psychological testing came back and said that I was a normal, healthy individual (with a slight tendency towards addiction--I'm an ex-smoker, remember), he said, "I knew they'd say that. It's never you, it's always me." Nothing was changing, and it finally got to the point where he asked me if I even wanted to be in this relationship. I took a deep breath and said, "No. I want out."

And I didn't leave. I wonder why now. I suppose part of it was that I'd bought this was I going to get out? Part of it was I didn't want to hurt our families. There was definitely an element of not wanting to admit failure. So I stayed. But the writing was on the wall, and it wasn't much longer. One evening after work, he started in on me, and as he was walking past me on his way to another room, he muttered, "You stupid shit."

Okay, I can laugh about this now, because after all the things I'd been called, this was what caused me to snap. I went running after him, pounded him on the chest, and yelled, "Don't call me stupid!" Ha ha ha! The fact that this illiterate asshole (who often used the word "literately" when he meant "literally") called me "stupid" was the straw that broke the camel's back! I knew I was going to be leaving soon, I just had to figure out how to do it. The decision was taken away from me later that week. I had been corresponding online with a guy in another city, and I got a call at work from the ex...he had found those emails. (My friend Bruce told me later that if I'd tried to hide those emails, I hadn't done it very well, and he thought that it was probably on purpose. I think he was right.)

It got pretty ugly from there. My sister came over and tried to talk to us, the ex alternated between rage and tears, and he said some pretty ugly and embarrassing things about me in front of my sister. She told him to leave so I could get some things together and we'd get out of there, and she told me not to worry about what he'd said. She knew he was just trying to hurt me. (Have I mentioned that I love my sister very much?) I spent a week with her, then stayed with my parents for a couple of months until my new apartment was ready. There were a few phone calls that took place, including one in which he said, "I'm sick. I'm mentally ill. Whatever happened to stand by your man?" I believe my reply was something like I hoped he could get some help, but that I just couldn't live like that. When he knew I wasn't coming back, he told everyone he talked to what a horrible person I was. I'd walk into a book store, and someone I'd briefly met at a museum function would say, "I saw your ex the other day! Boy, he is really upset about this and talked my ear off about it." My Mom talked to one of their neighbors who worked at a furniture store, and she said, "Your daughter's ex was in the other day...he said that when she left she took everything." (I'd taken the furniture I had before and left everything else, including my washer and dryer.) It went on for several months, and Mom told me, "Honey, the people that really know you will know the truth." Good advice, and she was right. My folks saw him at one point and Mom tried to be nice to him. She said, "I bet you kind of miss Beth Anne, huh?" He said, "I miss her money!" Classy. He got a loan and bought me out of the house, and I was DONE!

I heard that the ex (thank goodness I didn't marry him) broke down shortly after I left and had to be taken to the emergency room. As far as I know, he's doing okay now (I don't think he's ever gotten remarried, after his first marriage well before I came into the picture), but on the rare occasion that I see him at a family function, he flees the scene right after I arrive. Hmm! My sister Di has a degree in Social Work, and she told me later that she thinks the ex has borderline personality disorder, and that's one of the hardest things to treat. I didn't think much about it at the time, but some time later I was reading a web site where the woman was writing about her ex-husband's BPD. Almost every symptom and behavior fit my ex, from alternating between worshipful behavior and hatred, down to that exact phrase: "I'd die without you." So was it heartless of me to not "stand by my man?" Hell to the no! It was obvious that things would have continued to escalate, and it was equally obvious that he thought the problem wasn't with was with me. And apparently every other woman he'd dated before me, who also couldn't stand to be with him for any length of time.

I believe you can always find the silver lining in a situation. While it was not a fun experience by any means, it told me that there was no way I could stomach being in that kind of a volatile relationship. When I met Ken, he had experienced some similar things (where you try to get away from the arguing, and they follow you), and also wanted no part of that. So based on our shared experiences, we knew that we both wanted no drama, no fights, no shouting matches. Remember me saying that past relationships brought out the worst in me? That's what happened with that ex. The opposite holds true with Ken, and part of that is probably because of what happened to both of us in previous relationships. I made it clear to him early on that name-calling, even in jest, was not cool with me, and he understood and doesn't do it. I appreciate that.

Maybe there are some who get off on the drama, who get a charge out of the adrenaline that comes with a fight. Hey, have a ball. Knock yourselves out, so to speak. I'll get my adrenaline rushes elsewhere.

I remember talking to my friend Pam at work about a lot of this stuff when it happened, and a few years later on. She told me that I'm about the last person on earth she'd expect to put up with that kind of stuff, and we agreed that it just shows that it can happen to anyone. It probably happens a lot more than we know. If you feel uncomfortable with such behavior, say so. If it doesn't stop, start thinking about why it isn't stopping. They either don't respect you enough to understand that it is hurtful, or they can't control themselves. The former is something you'll have to decide whether or not you can tolerate. The latter is dangerous, because after a while, they won't be content with just verbal and emotional injury.

Every human being deserves better than that.


  1. People who engage in "fights" and such do not realize what a risk they put themselves in. Anger rarely results in a positive result. We rarely practice it in the business world, and when it does occur, it is usually nipped in the bud. So why would it ever be acceptable in a relationship.

    I am so proud of the fact that in our seven years together, we have still never had an argument, let alone a fight :o) For those of you thinking that it must just be building and the explosion will be epic, you are wrong. There is no lingering or hidden resentments, because we talk things out, rationally, and calmly.

    Nice entry "honey". There, I called you a name! :o)

  2. Thank you! I know this wasn't an easy thing to share...and your right it would of escalated into physical violence. What you described is how it all begins 9 times out of 10. The line I'll die without you is another warning sign. I had my ex. literally run his car into a tree to try to keep me from leaving.

    It goes from I'll die without you, to if I can't have you no one can. That last line is when it's more dangerous than ever. Because they mean it. When my ex started stalking my daughter to find me, those words reverbrated through my body. Even after all these years, yes...I believe he would carry it out.

    I'm so glad you left hon and now you have Ken. Your story is testament that it does get better, we do go on to better lives. I just wish you had never had to endure that kind of treatment in the first place. I've bookmarked your story to be able to repost it when I've put the blogroll together. Thank you for sharing this difficult time in your life. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Excellent post, this kind of treatment just creeps up on I personnaly have never been in an abusive relationship, but i've seen what it has done to freinds both male and female, and none of it good,and there's no point is saying "why do you stay", because you will never get an answers I just leave the door open, and when your ready i'll be there, but I have stepped in on several occasions it's amazing with a bully how they back off when they know they have no hold over you. Also to any women reading this, don't be ashamed it'snot your fault, and try to get the help you need.


  4. I went through a very abusive relationship a few years ago. Mine was mostly mental abuse as well. I was constantly told i was no good and he owuld never let me go to school or better myself in any way. He would make is impossible. I wouldnt doubt that some of my depression problems comes from that even though it has been a long time ago. I jumped into another marriage as a way out and I am regretting that everyday. ..hugs, Christine (struggling with my life)

  5. A touching entry. I'm so glad it's all over for you now and you and Ken have found each other.

    B. x

  6. It is amazing how being called stupid after all of the other attacks set you off and that was the final act. I'm so glad you got away from him and the disfunctional relationship, you deserve so much better.

    My x struck me one time and it was the last time. I went balistic and actually scared him to the point that he rarely raised his voice to me after that. I am one of those people who will go into absolute rage and I believe I would end up killing an abuser. I realize not everyone has that capacity and I feel so bad for women who are in abusive situations.

    Nobody deserves to be mistreated by their mate.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  7. I thank you for sharing your story, and for adressing the issue of mental abuse. I have been abused physically by certain family members, I have some scars to remember them. I have had my nose broke a few times, and have head aches sometimes from being hit in the head so many times! Unfortunately I had to hit back for it to stop, and violence is not me! I may not have been physically abused in a relationship, but have been mentally several times. I am so happy for you and Ken, and the fact that you can be open and comunicate your emotions to each other, rather than become the monsters that your not! You two are blessed to have found each other, and your love story makes my heart smile! :)

    I wish you guys a nice relaxing day today, and that you can have some fun too!


  8. So much of what you said was MY STORY... literally (not literately, although I believe I am relatively literate). My special term of endearment was that See You Next Tuesday word... And the arguments... they would go on for days... until my peace loving self would apologize for everything from global warming to the 9/11 attacks just to end the argument. I also got played with the "You have no idea how close I am to ending it all" game... alternately with "you have no idea how miserable it is to live with someone who is depressed" which alternated with lectures about how I was the source of my own misery. The physical stuff... I'm not ready to talk about yet. I may never. But the injustices against my sensibilities and intelligence were egregious and horrific. And I'm a smart, confident, capable and independent woman. I know if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. Thank you for sharing! I knew we had a bond...

  9. Thanks for writing about your experiences. The scars from that type of emotional abuse run deep. I'm so glad you found a man like Ken, happiness, and a much better life!
    :) Leigh

  10. Dangerous, abusive relationships certainly make you appreciate good ones. It takes great courage to get out of those situations. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. it is VERY brave to make this entry. Thank you for sharing it, it helps me know you lots better. I hate it that you cared for a man who put you thru are such a strong and intelligent lady and i am glad you got away and met Ken. Thank God also for your supportive family. XO

  12. This was an extremely well written, insightful and important for all to read post. Thank you for sharing, thank you for shining light into a dark issue and thank you for sharing with all that happen by your pages.

    I am grateful,

  13. Wow, this is so brave and honest, thank you for sharing your story. I've known for sometime that you are a person of great depth but your ability to put into words an experience that many of us have had is extraordinary. I'm going to recommend to every woman that I care about that she read your story. Come to think of it, I'm going to recommend it to the men in my life as well. You are truly a phenomenal woman.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?